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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

No confidential funds with House, per COA; Rody seeks transparency

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday said it has no confidential and intelligence funds and that all its spending is aboveboard based on the report of the Commission on Audit.

This was as former President Rodrigo Duterte challenged the House to be transparent in its spending a day after lawmakers slashed the P650 million CIF of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education headed by his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

“All line items in our budget are subject to regular accounting and auditing rules and regulations. Our books are always open to the Commission on Audit,” House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said.

“As per the latest COA report released only last October 2, the House of Representatives has no disallowances. No notice of suspension and no notice of charge. This means we passed the COA review,” he added.

Velasco belied allegations the House has P1.6 billion in confidential funds tucked under this year’s P5.268-trillion budget.

He added the House was “in agreement with former President Durerte that government expenditures should be transparent and fully auditable.”

House appropriations committee head Ako Bicol Rep. Zaldy Co said the P1.6 billion CIF claim was “fake news.”

“Congress has no confidential funds. The P1.6 billion that’s being mentioned are ‘extraordinary expenses,’” added Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House appropriations committee.

Quimbo said extraordinary funds are very different from confidential and intelligence funds.

“The extraordinary funds, which are fully auditable, are different from confidential funds, which Congress doesn’t have,” she said.

In July, COA said the House of Representatives even saw a budget surplus of P4.69 billion in its 2022 allocations.

The lower chamber reduced its spending for the acquisition of professional services and for the hiring of legislative consultants.

It also cut its spending on supplies and materials, utilities, communications, and professional services from P1.45 billion in 2021 to P1.13 billion in 2022.

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